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Good or Bad, It Makes Me Sad


In the recent thread on Ikea, someone ( Bonnie Ann?) said this: "Heirloom quality furniture is something that we have and guess what? Our kids want no part of it so there won't be any passing that down. China, silver and crystal, yes!" I'm seeing the truth of this everywhere. I can understand the rejection of ornate '70's Drexel, Henredon, heavy French provincial, English Manor, break fronts and bedroom " suites" etc., but to see gorgeous traditional pieces by Kindal, Baker, et al.......hand finished pieces made here, with screws on cabinet backs of real wood, vs. staples on particle board.....languishing in antique stores, or CL for less than the price of cr%^p made in China, well, it makes me sad. ( can you say run-on sentence ) Oh, and chests and tables, with beautiful veneers from the 1800's, for less than meh from China , ala RH. I suppose, if traditional or transitional isn't your thing, I get it. Being a toss out society can t be good, but perhaps it's freeing to have things not worthy of handing down? Happily, our children will be happy to receive the antiques I love. Sterling, good crystal and china? Younger set are either anti, or ambivalent. No one seems to register for sterling flatware anymore. Again, it does feel carefree to buy cute junk china from Homegoods, or Pier One, etc. I confess I rarely use my great grannies dinnerware, or my mothers Spode. Sigh. I've written myself into a corner and should not post this, but interested in your thoughts.

P.S I do think throw away clothes would be grand!!!












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Comments (89)

  • palimpsest
    7 years ago

    cyn, oops Louis XVI. I just finished reading a novel in which Henry II figured, and I saw a guy I know named Henry for the first time in a year or so, so that name must be on my mind.

  • monicakm_gw
    7 years ago

    robo, that's my BIL's couch from the 70's!

    I don't care for "old". I have a few trinkets from my grandmother that take up less room than a bar of soap. I wouldn't want generations old furniture. My daughter is the opposite. She rarely buys anything new. Her purchases come from estate sales and auctions. She took everything her grandmother left for her when she died and uses it! Doesn't mean she loved her grandmother more than I loved mine, we just have different ideas and taste. But, if I had a placed for it, I'd take that fun settee that my3dogs just posted :) Also, I don't keep things around that I don't use. No clutter allowed...ok, so I have one closet in the office that is in bad need of weeding out :o

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  • sushipup1
    7 years ago

    When we moved from California, I sent a number of pieces to the consignment store. A walnut Knoll dining table (that I had to keep a protector on when using but looked fantastic), 8 Saarinen upholstered dining chairs with walnut bases (that were very worn and would take $$$$ to reupholster), and a bunch of other things. I now have a large Ikea Stornas table that I can put a wet glass on, and 6 Henriksdal chairs. Looks good.


  • palimpsest
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I think though, that this is all very anti-Green movement. If you keep things despite their "datedness" --because that's what this is really all about, these things are usable, they just don't meet some current esthetic or "lifestyle" standard--things aren't ending up being disposed of, and you aren't requiring resources to make new stuff.

    If you really don't care about your Grandmother's china or the longevity of a piece of furniture, put it in the dishwasher and if the pattern comes off, so what? If nobody is going to want it in the future, why preserve it?

    A worn finish and rings from glasses look just as bad on IKEA as they do on Baker Knapp and Tubs, maybe worse. What's the big deal about wearing out if it is supposedly of no value to future generations?

  • User
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Boop, that is the same wedding china as my parents (wed in 1955). I cannot wait to inherit, as I've always loved it.

    I like the idea of pairing vintage pieces with funky upholstery:


  • Abby Krug
    7 years ago

    Here's an interesting piece about how a young diplomat's family make heavy Drexel furniture that is standard issue in the US Foreign Service work for them.

    http://www.thenewdiplomatswife.com/2015/12/dressing-the-drexel-the-dining-room.html

  • User
    7 years ago

    That is so bad, it's good!

  • kittymoonbeam
    7 years ago

    I didn't ever like the new 60s and 70s furniture my mom had. I loved grandma's furniture. I don't care if it looks old and antiquey. It needs lace doilies under glasses and all that extra care. Ok because I love doilies and I enjoy caring for that beautiful wood. Now I collect Victorian age and older things. We use our China and silver for everything but going outside. I love going into places where you feel like you stepped back in time. Our home is slow, with a formal Victorian parlor and dining room. The bedrooms are less formal but still feel romantic and rich. We never tire of it. When I want modern, I go out to eat. I love the romance, the craftsmanship, the history and the textures. The heavy velvets and the airy laces. The hand made rugs and tiffany glass. Everything says someone put their time and skill into making this.

    When I have guests, they get the old fashioned experience. Fresh baked bread, real embroidered bed linen, sterling and China at the table. I only wish I could have fresh eggs from my own hens but we do grow our own vegetables and herbs and have fresh citrus, apples and plums in season. I would not like to be without these things. It takes time to juice your own oranges, but it's worth it. I know it takes more time and effort to care for the linens and laces and carved velvet chairs but I think it's worth it.

    My sister is the opposite. She doesn't want to spend time caring for furniture. She doesn't want to polish silver or hand wash and iron linens and laces. I understand. When she wants something new, she can just have a completely new look. Off to the thrift store it goes without a second thought. It refreshes her to have something completely different. I think it's more expensive in the long term but everything always looks fresh and current.

    She has a smaller place with fewer things. If she moved, she'd leave it all behind. I often wonder how much of her old stuff was reused and how much is in the landfill. If most people's things are going to the landfill, then I worry about that long term.

  • zippity1
    7 years ago

    most people are enamored with things they feel are "in style" and therefore "awesome" ......so much so they find it difficult to develop their own taste in things this is encouraged by home decorating colors, styles, etc and make it easy for purveyors to bring out new trends frequently and this phenome has been going on for decades even centuries.........

  • User
    7 years ago

    Yes, styles evolve. Thankfully, in many cases!

  • palimpsest
    7 years ago

    I guess in some ways I am lucky because my parents were so conservative. Most of their stuff is so plain that it goes with anything.


  • User
    7 years ago

    Yup, perennial and classic.

  • PRO
    Anglophilia
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Gorham Fairfax - I have that, too! So does my son! It's a timeless pattern. I own 3 sets of sterling (one inherited) and at least 11 sets or partial sets of fine china. I use my sterling every single day. For years, I didn't own any stainless - finally bought some cheap plastic handled stuff at Target as my late husband was infamous for taking a sterling spoon outside with his yoghurt and then forgetting where he left it. Why not use it? Am I awaiting a visit from the Queen? Who is more important than my family?

    I use my good china for entertaining - different patterns for different holidays/time of year/occasion. I ADORE setting a beautiful table! I also use my fine linens. I only use my linen damask cloth Christmas Eve as it has to be sent to WI to be laundered and the fee, plus the huge UPS charge (it's returned on a roller) is astronomical. So I use gorgeous placemats for other occasions. Thankfully, my daughter does the same. My son is divorced so he doesn't - ex-wife never did use their gorgeous Herend Rothschild Bird with green banding, even once. He did get the Gotham Fairfax sterling flatware as my late FIL had given it to them as a wedding gift. He uses it daily, as my daughter does my mother's sterling.

    We'll have to see with the next generation, now ages, 11, 12, 14 and 16. The youngest is the only girl. Lord knows, there is enough to go around if they want it! I hope I'm dead if they don't.

  • User
    7 years ago

    "Herend Rothschild Bird"

    *******

    That is a gorgeous pattern. But, it occurs to me, that one of the reasons why these china patterns aren't used (other than as chargers and accessories) might be that white plates are heavily favored for how beautifully food is presented on them.


  • palimpsest
    7 years ago

    I am going to sound like I am talking out of both sides of my mouth now, but...I don't really care what happens to any of these things when I can no longer use them. If the next generation wants them great, if they don't that's okay, too. I am not sentimental in that way.

  • User
    7 years ago

    I think it's a far more sane stance to take, palimpsest! People dither over where their precious things will end up when they release them.

    It's the emotional attachment more than anything. More than it being solid wood, or fine china or sterling silver. That's where the real value lies and why it's so hard to let go, or understand why our family's coveted belongings get cast aside for Ikea.

  • rosesstink
    7 years ago

    I'm not sentimental that way either, pal. I can understand wanting to keep 150+ year old things in the family. I have a six board blanket chest that's been in the family for generations. It's not the easiest thing to find room for in a small house but I treasure it. Neither I nor my siblings liked the Harden dining room set that my parents owned. It was better off being sold to someone who would appreciate it. I use my mother's "good" dishes (ironstone) every day but grandma's china was not my style so I let it go to one of my brothers. If I encounter her in heaven grandma will probably be miffed that I gave it away. I never saw her use it though (and she was 103 when she died - maybe she used it for friends but not clumsy family?). What's the point of owning something you never use? That said, I do own quite a bit of inherited silverware that rarely sees the light of day. Guess I should pull it out of the silverware chest.

  • User
    7 years ago

    What do you all own/have you inherited? Silver "silver" or silver-plated?

  • eld6161
    7 years ago

    Then there are parent's who force their children to take large pieces of furniture when they have to down size.

    This happened to two friends of mine. My feeling is that everything can't be sentimental and important. And, just because it is important to you, doesn't mean that it is important to your children.

    I agree with Mimi. The young adults starting out are living in very small places. And, they move often. Things are not important to them.


  • kittymoonbeam
    7 years ago

    Sterling for inside and silverplate for outdoors or at events we attend in period clothing. Sterling flatware is wonderful and you can get luncheon sizes for breakfast, lunch or tea and the larger dinner size. The silverplate sets are so affordable now and if you keep them in a chest, you only need to polish them once or twice a year. We use ours through the year so not much polishing is needed. Silver isn't so difficult to care for. Lemon and eggs need to be cleaned off right away and don't use lemon dish soap. If you are going to put it in the dishwasher, don't mix sterling with stainless pieces. Antique Cupboard has some great care tips.

  • Fun2BHere
    7 years ago

    I use my sterling silver all the time and it rarely needs polishing. I think if you wash it right away and, more importantly, dry it well and store it in tarnish-resistant cloth, you don't have to polish it very often. Growing up, we only had sterling silver flatware because it was given to my parents as a gift. We didn't have the money to buy a stainless steel set.

  • PRO
    Anglophilia
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Sterling is a better investment - it's forever.

    My everyday dishes are Royal Copenhahen Tranquebar. My MIL also had this and we got a few pieces. Where the rest went is a controversial subject in the family. I had no problem with her daughter getting it but she denies she did and says I did. Not!

    I inherited my mother 's Spode china and her crystal (Fostoria). My daughter got the sterling flatware as I already had two sets. My grandmother's sterling went to my oldest cousin as she had the same pattern. I also inherited 6 place settings of Gorham Fairfax from my bachelor uncle as I had that pattern - got 6 luncheon size I had not had before. I also inherited his set of a Royal Doulton Coaching Days China which I use for Thanksgiving. Then there is my grandmother's set of Minton Rose china, and my MIL's "summer silver" Gorham Strasburg sterling flatware - dinner and luncheon. I registered for Tiffany English King, Waterford Lismore crystal, and Abbeydale Imari ( looks like Derby Old Imari) when I was married 50 yrs ago. Then there are other various partial sets of dishes I've acquired over the years. My daughter has multiple sets as well.

    I've never understood this obsession with how " food looks on the plate" if it's not white. I love setting a beautiful table - it says "This is an occasion"!

    Only the Tranquebar goes in the dishwasher. Put the Fairfax in for years when children were growing up, but so few now that I'm alone I just hand wash, dry and put away. It gets polished about once a year to really sparkle. I do put the Waterford in the dishwasher but none of the china. Yes, it takes a while to wash and dry it all and put it away, but it's worth it to me.

    My home and its furnishings are the story of my life and of other family members before me.

  • Kippy
    7 years ago

    Timely topic

    this week we moved moms old china cabinet in to my room (it had been banished to the sunroom). Between mom and I, there is the built in cabinet, a buffet and another cabinet filled with a collection of "pretty" plates, depression glass, silver tea sets and grandmas tea set. Some I love, much I would love to have the space instead. mom has days she wants to get rid of stuff and days it is a crime I don't want to keep the tg&y gold tin picture frame that probably cost less than .50 cents back in the day.

    I plan on not making my children go through this. Things they want it will give when they have space for them. The rest will slowly be sold off or donated.


    Meanwhile I am plotting painting this cabinet and just what I can do with two drawers full of hand made purses (crocheted or macramé probably annual birthday gifts to grandma from a friend) and two shelves of random "cute" things found at the thrift store....


  • blubird
    7 years ago

    My parents had a set of dishes they collected from going to the movies. Our 'good' glassware were yartzeit glasses..(some of you will get the reference...for those who don't, a yartzeit glass holds a 24 hour memorial candle, lit on several occasions during the year) our every day glasses were jelly glasses...welch's grape, as I recall. Nothing to inherit there.

    When I got married, 48 years ago, no showers, no registries. My parents did buy us a set of fancy China, white with gold rim, no name, but it survives today and is used on occasions. No crystal, but we did inherit my MIL's silverplate, also used on those special occasions. Both the silverplate and the china have gone through the dishwasher many times with no ill effects.

    if my children don't want any of it I wouldn't be upset...sell it at an estate sale with my other stuff.

  • aprilneverends
    7 years ago

    I agree with palimpsest about this myth about younger generation..

    When my kids open their closets and say "We have nothing to wear!"-I love them dearly and I understand them, but frankly-they've got no clue what "nothing to wear" really means:)

    When they open refrigerator and say "There's nothing to eat!" they imply there's nothing yummy ready for them there this very moment. Luckily as they get older they know better:) But they-fortunately-have no clue what "nothing to eat" really means.

    I'm lucky too-there were only three days in my life when I had absolutely nothing to eat. By the end of the third day, I was feeling my psyche was changing..I felt like an angel, pale, dizzy and not bothered by earthly matters anymore:) Luckily I -rather unexpectedly-met a friend. She saved my live by preparing a huge amount of pasta and eggs:) I was 18-you're too proud to ask for food when you're 18. But that was a memorable experience.

    Speaking of experiences-I think we were more about experiences, if anything. You didn't have a virtual life yet; so you were concentrating on a real one.

    I missed on a lot of travelling when I was young-no money, and we started a family early. But then life took us places, so it kinda made up for it..to a certain degree.

    As for my brother who's older than me, and got married much later-he traveled a lot. Really traveled. He even climbed Annapurna-his childhood dream he was set to accomplish one day.

    People don't change that much, from generation to generation. They change when they are living their lives.

    Of course every generation has different challenges. Some went through hunger and war, some didn't. Some lived in more or less stable times, some saw several revolutions. That matters, yes. A lot.

    But otherwise, I think we all undergo somewhat similar process. We're looking for beauty, whatever it means. That's how we're wired. First you appreciate the details, like snowflakes, or puddles, or leaves, or shadows-everything around tells you a story. Then your world expands, more and more. You start exploring yourself, at certain point. And others. Then-maybe many years after- you're back to puddles and snowflakes..:)

    I'm happy to see that as my teenagers become bigger-they look at the world with greater interest again.

    They become more fascinated with art and history and seeing places. And it's all interconnected. The more you're exposed to-the more you appreciate things you see. Very different things. They might, or might not, become into decor or houses or whatever. That is not the point. That also highly depends on a person.

    The point is to understand that you can be happy without actually owning so much. The beauty is all around you-enjoy what you've got, and appreciate the rest.

    My daughter has already understood it's wiser to have 5 nice tees than 25 from "forever21". Took several years..:) but we're getting there.

    I hope they will develop the same attitude regarding stuff. No matter what they'll have; I hope they appreciate it. It's not a given-to have something. And it's not a given-to be in a mood to enjoy it. Not at all.

  • runninginplace
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    "It's not that the younger generation doesn't appreciate quality (heck, I bought a 1920's Craftsman in the land of McMansions), it's we want things that reflect our taste. For instance, my grandmother's home is full of things she loves, mine should be the same. "

    This! I am no the process of sorting/discarding/saving decisions on someone else's household for the second time in 3 years, first with a close friend who died and left us his estate and now with my MIL's home which must be emptied in preparation for being rented out--she is 92 with dementia and in assisted living, and won't be coming back.

    What I've come to understand is that what's said above is for me the heart of this issue--the objects in our homes that reflect our memories are only talismans for the person who owns them, not for anyone else. And it's unrealistic and unfair to expect or demand that others take on our memory caretaking.

    I found a note a few days ago in my MIL's desk that firmly instructed that NONE of her belongings were to go to anyone outside the family. If her sons or grandsons didn't want items, her niece was to be called because niece would take everything. Well, the reality is that her niece is NOT going to take an entire house worth of stuff just because her aunt couldn't bear to part with any of it, not going to happen. And niece isn't obligated to do so.

    I recognize that my talismans are mine, nobody else's, as are the memories they evoke. Someday for example when I'm gone and my children come across a blue floral print double knit dress in the back of my closet, it will be tossed because they won't treasure it as a dress for their mom that runninginplace's own mother sewed when running was a teenager, the last creation that runningplace had from her mom who lovingly made many of her clothes growing up, a grandmother they never knew because she died before her 42nd birthday.

    And that's ok. My dress has meaning to me, it doesn't to them so when I'm gone the memory and meaning is too. They have their own talismans and their own homes to decorate and live in. I don't have any right or expectation that they will take on mine too.

    If I've learned one thing from doing this twice now it is this: things are things, nothing more and nobody should expect or demand that their things be honored once they are gone. If they are, great. If not, that's just as great.

    And don't even get me started on the 'they are angry because they don't want it but think [children/someone] else should take it'. Or the 'I won't give it away, it's too valuable'. Bah!

  • artemis_ma
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    It does make me sad to think that a lot of the very fine furniture I've inherited from my parents and grandparents will never fit into my neices' styles.

    But on the other hand, I don't want them or anyone laden with stuff they really don't like, and it does give me the "permission" to Craigs List some of those aforementioned furnishings that, while I don't dislike them, I seldom if ever use and will not have the space for in my new build.

    Those I will be keeping are because I enjoy them, or because they remain practical without my having to go out and spend lots of money to replace in order to serve the same need.

    Edit: I don't think that it's that "millenials are more interested in experiences than things" -- besides being a broad generalization, sometimes those of us with inherited things never really got out and developed a taste of our own until later -- it was accepted you just didn't spend the extra money when starting out if you were lucky enough to have some hand-me-down furnishings, and it was accepted that things were kept in the family. Now, many millenials want to buy their own things, as nice as they can afford, when they first start out.

    (I bought my original home around the time my grandmother passed away, so my starter life was with her coffee table, end tables, covered chair, plus the sofa bed and wall unit my parents sprang for me, plus any number of tag sale items and a fair selection of assemble-it-yourself presswood bookcases, since I'm the family bibliophile. As my parents got older and downsized, my brother and I ended up with a lot of THEIR stuff -- my brother has a second home so this was very useful for him, but I really have no need for their dining room set, although aesthetically it is much nicer than the one I've been using for years. Craigs List instead of garage - with dehumidifier - storage. Oh, I'll be keeping the coffee table and the end tables when I move, but the chair is not really practical, and is a cat-magnet and now stays in a cat-free bedroom where it serves as a clutter magnet, so it will be on CL. The presswood is now almost entirely replaced. I never used the parental dining set as it won't fit in my current dining nook (there will be more dining space when I move) and the chairs are stylish but not comfy for people with bad backs.)

  • Debbie Downer
    7 years ago

    This idea that "younger people" as a group dont like heirlooms or old things - just another internet thing repeated so often that some people start to think its true. For one thing - think about it, young people are living in apartments and moving around and dont want to be burdened with "stuff" - this was as true of us boomers and earlier generations as it is now. Collecting stuff, buying more substantial furniture is more of a 30s-40s age group thing, and inheriting doesnt generally start happening until well into middle age (that is if we're fortunate and our parents live a good long life). As for antiques, as the older stuff appreciates and gets priced out of existance people, esp younger people, start discovering "new" old things and then those things get fashionable and overpriced (eg industrial style) and eventually the cycle begins anew. Just because your kid doesnt want a large high-victorian heavy oak 3 piece bedroom set doesnt mean they dont like antiques, It could be they like other styles, could be they like it but it just wont fit in their studio apartment

  • User
    7 years ago

    When family/inherited things start weighing you down, then it's time to pass them on to someone that will enjoy them. I have only a few things passed down (piecrust table, silver calling card case, pocket watch and other small items) but somehow I became the keeper of photographs. I've never understood passing by a bowl filled with old family photos at an antique store. DD2 said she will gladly be the keeper after me.

    My mother has been under hospice care for almost two months. DH and I have been looking at houses, and my dad strangely said "find us a new house" a couple of times, so I finally asked him if he wanted to live with us - this would change our search criteria. Surprisingly he said yes, until he drove out to where we live (hasn't in awhile now) and said "it's a long drive." So now he's changed his mind. But my contribution to this thread is when he was moving in with us, he walked in the DR of the house we were considering and said "my furniture will look good in here." :-/ My thought was "what about my antique DR pieces that I love?!" His are Baker and one chair cost more than my table... but I LOVE my table (and chairs!). He thinks because his things cost/are worth way more than mine that I would automatically start replacing my things with his. But this couldn't be further from the truth. I set my DH straight though when he said "you might have to use some of this things until he's gone, and can just store ours." Big no!

    I realize our three adult children have different taste and would never push something on them they do not want in their homes. I don't plan to have things pushed on me either.

  • palimpsest
    7 years ago

    I guess this depends on how old people are when they start divesting of things.

    When I was in my twenties--really until I was 40 anyway--I was in no position to take china or furniture or things like that. So to some extent I wouldn't have wanted it because I was not settled enough.

    But my parents were also not divesting of things when I was in my twenties or thirties. And my parents are older, my dad was 38 when I was born. I don't think a lot of my parents friends really hit their social peaks until their kids were out of the house: they all seemed to do a ton of entertaining and socializing --at a point where my parents at least--were in their 60s and 70s.

    We emptied the house of my parents furniture and china and such after my dad's 90th birthday, and although for the five years before that the china and things only got used on holidays, they still got used by the original owners, so to speak.

    I don't think any of us were interested in having the same things in our twenties than we ended up being in our forties and fifties.


  • User
    7 years ago

    But my contribution to this thread is when he was moving in with us, he walked in the DR of the house we were considering and said "my furniture will look good in here." :-/ My thought was "what about my antique DR pieces that I love?!" His are Baker and one chair cost more than my table... but I LOVE my table (and chairs!)

    ******

    Which really goes to the heart of the matter in many cases. People perceive their items to be worth more, or to be of superior quality, therefore, they should and WILL supplant "lesser" goods.

    As you expressed- uh, no.

  • hhireno
    7 years ago

    My in-laws are getting closer to downsizing. Except for a cuckoo clock, I can't think of one other item that I might want from their house. They don't have high quality furniture or any heirloom pieces (I'm not judging, my parents didn't either). I will be shocked if there is anything my husband wants, but if there is I guess we'll find space to keep it, without replacing any of our furniture.

  • Bonnie
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My late parents did not buy anything until they could pay cash and buy the best quality. Even when living in Chicago during their college years they both had gold crowns and inlays on their teeth. Their philosophy covered every area of their lives!

    Here are a couple of the several pieces of furniture that I inherited from them.

    The first is the chest of drawers that was part of their bedroom set. It's MCM solid cherry in pristine condition. My mother always had custom glass made for the tops of dressers. I don't use them! Sadly, I had to part with the matching dresser by donating it to Habitat for Humanity.

    I have two Pembroke tables in the LR. My mother would be happy to see me using them. We took the end tables that we bought as newlyweds to our vacation house. Our children did not want much from their grandparents' furniture, but our oldest did take a Persian rug for the DR in her condo. It looks great and she is happy to have it.

    We use our china, crystal and sterling silver on a regular basis. It all goes in the DW! Someone mentioned valuing experiences more than things. We have embraced that philosophy and look for opportunities to travel, dine out, try new things and our children were brought up that way. My parents did not do much traveling. I used to think it was because they had two houses and spent most free time at their second home. Now I see it more as a generational difference.

    Martica, thank you for starting this thread!

  • emma1420
    7 years ago

    I think the biggest issue is that, as others have pointed out, the furniture of yesteryear just doesn't match what is in style these days. However, I also think one of the issues that arises, is that for many people the furniture that parents/grandparents wish to pass down really isn't that much better quality than the cheap furniture available today. And some of the better stuff has gotten butchered through the generations.

    For example, my great aunt believed that her furniture was heirloom quality. She took good care of it, and it held up well, but it was mostly MDF. She couldn't understand why no one wanted furniture that screamed 1988 made out of MDF. In contrast, a relative inherited a bedroom set from her grandmother which was a gorgeous mid-century-modern set made out of blonde mahogany. She proceeded to destroy the bedroom set by painting it and changing out all the pulls (and drilling a bunch of new holes in the process). I can't blame her kids for not wanting that set any more.


  • cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Pal, yes. Exactly. My mother was all about holding on to stuff. Good heavens, if she could have taken it with her, she would have! That taught me that when my son and daughter-in-law might need or like something I have, they get it now! Even if it is something I like and use. Just recently gave her an antique Pennsylvania bedside table after she mentioned that she was going to look for one for her side of the bed. So glad they are dedicated to re-using and recycling! They don't mention things often, but if they do, happy to give what I can.

    Also, good point about the wear on fine china-you are right again. I am going to ask DIL if she thinks the china with a narrow gold band would ever be something she would want. If not, into the dishwasher it will go from now on.

  • freeoscar
    7 years ago

    There is a practicality issue here as well. Moving furniture, especially heavy wood furniture, is a total PITA. And people move more frequently, and 'settle down' later than they did in the past. So while that china-made Wayfair or IKEA furniture may not be heirloom quality, it'll last long enough. (I'd also add that in my experience, outside of couches, that stuff holds up surprisingly well. And a quality couch is several thousand dollars, and the fabric no less likely to get stained. And re-upholstery is a fortune).

  • hooked123
    7 years ago

    Wow! What an interesting topic! I worked in high end consignment furniture about a year ago, and antiques didn't move. We had a piece that had been purchased 20 years ago for twenty thousand dollars sell for three hundred and fifty dollars. People just don't want antiques. I heard many different points of view, and kept an open mind. Some clients told me they didn't want to purchase forever furniture, they wanted the liberty to switch out every 5 years. I enjoyed learning about furniture and the latest trends in buying. My daughter just moved out and took everything that I offered her, however if she had not wanted my older pieces I would not have been offended in the least. Everything is different now, hand written letters and thank you notes have become a lost art which is very sad to me. Family heirlooms are treasures, but many young people live in very small spaces that a carefully curated, and the pieces end up being stored in the garage. I think it's different now, and I am not one to judge as I don't want my older relatives pieces. I do have my parents china though and treasure it!

  • hooked123
    7 years ago

    I also grew up with parents that didn't have heirloom quality pieces so I understand what many posters are saying. My elderly Mother-in-law has two special pieces that she has told me to please not give away to charity. They were purchased overseas and are extremely special. If we are ever privileged enough to inherit them we will keep them.

  • writersblock (9b/10a)
    7 years ago

    I think it's more than this. When I was young, at least some young people liked the continuity that antiques and vintage clothing represented, to think about people who owned or wore this or that and what their lives would have been like. As far as I can tell, that kind of curiosity has totally disappeared now.

    A sense of continuity from the past moving into the future would be considered a weird-as-hell notion now.

  • hooked123
    7 years ago

    Writersblock- it's funny to hear you say that because I would often tell customers the story behind whatever antique piece they were looking at and often they weren't interested in hearing about why and where the piece came from. It always suprised me as I love history. Unless I had worked in the industry, I wouldn't have believed how different everything is now.

  • Celia Lin
    7 years ago

    I'm a huge fan of vintage and antique dishes, pitchers and linens (sheets, cotton blankets and pillowcases esp.) I go to estate sales to swipe them up, and I use them in my businesses - so it's a write-off!

    Not my collection; mine are still packed away from a move:

    Vintage furniture? Sometimes good. But it has to be something that I want, like and will fit in our home. Hard to meet all criteria when it's passed down from family.

    I have a friend who is literally in therapy because her parents sent a huge truck full of all their old furniture to my friends new home. All nice, top of the line pieces, (wealthy family with a CO mountain home) but totally not her style and didn't fit her 1890's inner city Victorian. She was hoping for light, bright and airy, and got clunky, heavy and masculine from her parents. not to mention her parents didn't ask if she wanted it. So much obligation.

    That being said, it's nice to have the option of family pieces you cherish.

  • texanjana
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I think it's a big burden to expect adult children to want our 'stuff.' When my mom gave us some of my great grandparents' things, she said not to ever get rid of it. What?? If you give me something, it's mine to do with as I please.

    She also gave me all of her good jewlelry (my brothers will get the paintings), and I sold most of it because it just wasn't my style at all and it would have sat in the safe. All four of our parents are still living-in their 80s and 90s, in laws still in their home that they built in the 40s. My parents have downsized 3 times and are now in assisted living and skilled nursing. We received three punch bowl sets-two crystal and one silver, plus lots of cut glass and stuff like that. I just gave the last punch bowl set to Goodwill.

    We also received all of the family pictures. Who made the rule that the daughter gets all this stuff? I worked really hard and separated them out, sent a box to my uncle, one to my aunt and one to each of my brothers. I told them if they didn't want them to throw them away.

    Interestingly, our sons were glad to get furniture from my parents, but our daughter didn't want any of it, and that was fine. She's all about modern and IKEA.

    We are looking to downsize ourselves in the next few years, so I wonder about my in laws' things. They always had money, so have some really nice furniture, rugs, etc. There are four kids so hopefully that will take care of itself.

    My grandparents all died by the time I was in my early 30s, and my paternal grandparents were well off and had travelled the world. They had many beautiful rugs that they had bought on their travels, and I so regret that I didn't take any of them when they were offered to us. We had three kids 4 and under at the time and it just wasn't something I wanted then. I don't even know what happened to them. My parents didn't end up with them.

    Our kids will probably sell our sterling someday, and that doesn't really bother me. It's just stuff, and maybe the cash can help them more than something sitting in a drawer gathering dust.

  • kittymoonbeam
    7 years ago

    I like holding in my hands the lace bed cover that my grandma's mom made for her bed in their farmhouse. I never knew her, but I can imagine the hours she spent making it. My grandmother cherished it. Something from her mother and their home far so far away. I have some other things from relatives that are gone now. I'm going to pass them on. If no one wants them, ok, but I think it's special to have cherished things from family and remember them and their stories. That lace cover reminds me of the stories of Pioneer days and what it meant to have a few treasured things from someone so dear.

  • palimpsest
    7 years ago

    I am really kind of surprised though that people think putting a glass on a coaster or magazine or whatever instead of on the bare wood, constitutes so high a level of "babying" a piece of furniture.

    That said, I think it was much more practical when certain pieces of furniture came with Formica tops. Both my sisters' bedroom furniture, which was historically styled but made for a commercial market I think, came with Formica tops and it was great.

    My bedroom furniture was offered with a Formica top or a wood top (Ethan Allen) and they got the wood top because the formica did not look as nice with the stained wood, and the tops definitely wore faster especially where the sun hit them.

    People turn up their noses now at laminate but it is a really practical surface for certain pieces of furniture.

  • User
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    That show "Cash in the Attic" used to haunt my mom. She would watch it then get totally depressed. I think the show that horrified her the most was when they sold off all the beautiful antiques and bought a hot tub and beer cooler. I heard about that one over and over.

    That said, both me and my sister promised many times never to sell "anything." This is a burden and pretty much impossible.

    If you have a lot of things and hope they will be valued by the children don't treat everything like it is a cherished heirloom to be maintained forever. Make sure people know what is good and what is not. That's how Monets end up at garage sales.

    Someone said the era of the formal middle class dinner is over. Very astute comment. I try to use the good stuff when I can. If it breaks, oh well.

    One room mate 30 years ago got grandmas China. It was pretty. We used it. We were dumb...eventually it stopped sparking in the microwave. Anyway I have 1 piece from back then I use as a soap dish. Somebody's grandma is still remembered by a random person because her China is used every day.

  • texanjana
    7 years ago

    I didn't mean to sound callous. I have a very traditional home, and I do enjoy using my great grandmothers' cut glass items on occasion and imagining what they were like since I never knew them. I just think we should have a choice regarding the items we want and not feel guilty if there are some we don't want.

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
    7 years ago

    <i>That said, both me and my sister promised many times never to sell "anything." This is a burden and pretty much impossible.</i>

    Definitely. I don't think that's something a parent or grandparent should put on a (grand)child, or that a (grand)child should agree to. And I say that as someone who, on both sides of the family, is one of the few willing or eager to accept hand-me-downs and heirlooms. Honestly, it's nice to have the choice. My parents were first generation in the U.S. and each arrived with just a suitcase, so whatever I inherited they bought during their marriage. My parents' Kittinger mahogany end tables have glass on top, which is very practical for drinks (no coasters needed lol) and as another place to display photos, kids' drawings, special invitations, etc. I can either dust wood or clean glass weekly : )

    My husband's family has much more, though the quality isn't always there. There's some great vintage and antique kitchenalia, a lovely Hoosier plus 1930s enamelware and 1950s Pyrex, but also some very ugly, very sturdy furniture like the sofa above.

    I have a pretty traditional style as well, and we enjoy daily use of the family items we have, but also like that we've had a say about what to keep and accept -- what is meaningful to us and suits our style. The other thing that has been helpful for us, is to use these things regularly, so that the kids learn and understand the family history behind them, and have the time to develop a fondness and appreciation for them, is to use these items. If you keep the good stuff, whether it's Granny's old tea set or your wedding china, in storage except for once a year at Christmas, your kids and other family will have a difficult time making that connection and liking the stuff, especially if it's very different from your/their usual style. Then again, it's up to my kids what they want to keep. The rest we can sell and have a party or take a trip : ) .

    The comment above about the old tradition of hand-me-down furniture for starter homes is apropos -- no-one really wants to start out with a starter home anymore, and if you watch any HGTV you know that even first house buyers expect stainless appliances and granite countertops.

    I also think there's a paucity of imagination when it comes to family items. As Veda says, younger people *are* buying older stuff. A lot of the current Kinfolk look is based on vintage items, and RH and Barn Light Electric among many make their money selling the faux vintage look. Maybe kids and grandkids are used to seeing the items as they looked at home. But put them in a different setting, styled differently, and it's vintage vs. "grandma".




  • aprilneverends
    7 years ago

    When we were leaving the Soviet Union(which would soon cease to be Soviet Union; but we didn't know that yet), we were very frowned upon. You were allowed to leave; but the process was made into long, senseless sometimes, and humiliating. You couldn't just take your possessions as well; you needed to take everything even resembling art or something valuable, to the special Committee that would decide whether this item is permitted to leave the country or not.

    We didn't have anything valuable-couple of paintings, little silver dish, silver cigarette box that was gifted to my late Grandfather when he'd retired. His coworkers had a short engraving made inside: "To dear XYZ..."

    Still, being compliant citizen, my Mom took everything for the Committee to approve.

    They said no, property of the state. including my Grandpa's cigarette box, with his name engraved there.

    We still took some things with us, that arrived later. They allowed container or half container or something. We took some books, a watercolor, a drawing, table and chairs, a pendant my Grandma loved. They're at my Mom's now. The rest, was hand-me-downs again, for several years at least.

    You couldn't sell your apartment there as well -the privatization hadn't started yet, back then. You just left it. Property of the state. And you started anew.

    Very far cry from being a war refugee, for example. Was not easy-but was not matter of life or death as well. You decide something, you go through with it, you adjust.

    Just a story of having no heirloom:)

    I miss this cigarette box though.

  • hamamelis
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Very interesting, Aprilneverends.

    I'm writing because I'm still sad about other people having no heirlooms because of pure self-ishness in the literal as well as usual sense.

    Some kids we knew inherited some pieces of fine, classic furniture from early through mid last century, plus some older furniture pieces, lamps, accessories, etc. Oh! And also some nice, though not museum-quality, paintings by her greatgrandfather back in the 1930s-40s and an uncle who died in his teens.

    In addition to the priceless sentimental value, there is also no reason to assume that people of ordinary income will be able to afford to replace this in future. The brass alone is likely to be out of the reach of many without saving up for it instead of family vacations.

    They liked cheap-quality but stylish 2015 catalog stock, though, saw it all as just old stuff, ignored all advice to store at least some for another decade or another generation--including the paintings, and got rid of it all on Craigslist.

    Just because someone doesn't want something today doesn't mean others won't treasure it in future. My daughter loves the few pieces she has from a grandmother she never met because of the connection. So interestingly, their tastes are very similar, a kind of urbane elegance, though each is/was very stylish for her era.

  • valarie6
    7 years ago

    This is such an interesting topic. I've actually given it a lot of thought over the years. I've always loved antiques and old houses. Others in my family weren't interested. In looking back I think it was because as a young child I lived in a trailer. It seemed so temporary and fragile. It shook when my dad walked through it. Heck it shook when my sister and I walked through it as little girls. So I always wanted things that felt permanent and unshakeable and had history to support them. My DH and I now live in a home built in 1872 and was previously the parsonage for a local church. We have a few items from our parents and grandparents and they are treasured and used like the Hoosier cabinet from my grandmother in law and a beautiful covered dish from my great grandmother. We also have antiques from auctions as well as pieces like our dining table which is new but made from repurposed wood. I love my Lenox China and Temperware given to me by my mother and sister when I got my first apartment. Still using these 34+ years. I'm not overly attached to these things they are just things but they do give me pleasure and remind me of the legacy of love in our families. I don't think you have to hang onto things in order to hang onto the memories. I love to see things being used and enjoyed not sitting in storage gathering dust.

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